Sunday, December 13, 2009
Children's Christmas Baking
I have this problem every year. We put up the Christmas tree, we decorate the house, we write out our Christmas cards, we play the Christmas music. We get everything ready and out, prepared and bought. We make plans about food and where to go and what to see. And I never feel Christmassy. Not until the very end usually.
So I'm doing all I can to speed up that process. I actually have a little to-do list which includes making our own Christmas cards and wrapping paper. Making Christmas decorations and so on, which I've not yet had time to do. But one of the ways I have made time for is by baking Christmassy things with the children.
I have a 4 year old and a not quite 2 year old. So things have to pretty simple for them to help out. To be fair, there isn't much my Littlest can do. But Oldest likes measuring and stirring and especially those little cutters. Here are some of the things we've 'baked' in our house this week in preparation for Christmas. It's kept the boys busy for a few hours anyway.
Creamy chocolate fudge
To make 36 squares of fudge, you will need:
75g (3oz) full-fat cream cheese
350g (12oz) icing sugar
1 level teaspoon of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of oil, for wiping
75g (3oz) plain chocolate chips
40g (1 1/2oz) butter
a shallow 15cm (6in) square cake tin
1. Put the cream cheese into a bowl. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa through a sieve into the bowl too. Mix them together well.
2. Put the cake tin onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and draw around it. Cut out the shape, just inside the line.
3. Use a paper towel to wipe oil onto the sides and base of the tin. Press in the paper square and wipe it too.
4. To melt the chocolate, pour water into a pan, until it is about 3cm (1in) deep. Heat it until it bubbles, then remove the pan from the heat.
5. Put the chocolate chips and the butter into a heatproof bowl. Put on oven gloves and gently put the bowl into the pan.
6. Stir the chocolate until they have melted. Using oven gloves, carefully lift the bowl out of the water. Stir in a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture
7. Pour the chocolate into the cheese mixture in the bowl. Beat them together with a spoon until creamy.
8. Spoon the mixture into the tin, and push it into the corners. Make the top of the fudge as flat as you can.
9. Put the tin in the fridge for two hours, or until the fudge is firm.
10. Use a blunt knife to loose the edges of the fudge, then turn it out onto a large plate. Remove the paper, cut the fudge into lots of squares. Put fudge back in fridge for two hours, or until hard. Enjoy.
My thoughts: I'd never melted chocolate before. It was a new experience and I quite enjoyed it. I always thought I'd have to faff around doing that, but it was quite simple. I couldn't find my sifter though, and I think the icing sugar really needed that. The taste was wonderful, everyone seemed to enjoy it. I think I've started a Christmas tradition with this one :) Next year I might buy some pretty cellophane and wrap them up to give as gifts or in goody bags or something.
To make about 25 peppermint creams, you will need:
250g (9oz) icing sugar
half the white of a small egg, mixed from dried egg white (mix as directed on packet)
1 teaspoon peppermint flavouring
2 teaspoons lemon juice
green food dye
a rolling pin
a baking sheet covered in plastic foodwrap
1. Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl. Make a hole in the middle of the sugar with a spoon.
2. Mix the egg white, peppermint flavouring and lemon juice in a small bowl. Pour the mixture into the sugar.
3. Use a blunt knife to stir the mixture. Then, squeeze it between your fingers until it is smooth, like a dough.
4. Cut the mixture into two pieces. Put each piece into a bowl. Add a few drops of green food dye into one bowl.
5. Use your fingers to mix the dye. If the mixture is sticky, add a little more icing sugar and mix it in.
6. Sprinkle a little icing sugar onto a clean work surface. Sprinkle some onto a rolling pin too, to stop the mixture sticking.
7. Roll out the green mixture until it is about as thick as your little finger. Use cutters to cut out lots of shapes.
8. Use a blunt knife to lift the shapes onto the baking sheet. Roll out the white mixture and cut out more shapes.
9. Lift all the shapes onto the baking sheet. Leave them for at least an hour until they become hard.
My thoughts: These were fun to make and quite simple. I followed the recipe to the letter but found my batter needed a bit more egg white than was required. Also, I didn't make white and green batches but dropped some green food dye onto the whole thing. I think I needed more. The strong peppermint taste is not to everyone's liking but I think it'd make a great gift if put into a pretty box!
I love the idea of Christmas baking. For the following weeks we plan to bake gingerbread cookies, shortbread, cheesy Christmas stars, shining star biscuits, and possibly chocolate truffles! See, I'm already excited. Christmas here we come!
A huge thank you to Marg and Kailana for organising such a wonderful event!